Preseason in Mexico:Day 10
Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe confirmed to the members of the New York media on a conference call last Friday that after some speculation, he is planning to use Designated Player Rafa Marquez in center defense this year.
Backe’s statement comes after the Mexican paired alongside Tim Ream in New York’s penalty kick win over Atlante’s First Team last Wednesday. The duo again started on Saturday, this time anchoring the backline in the middle in a 3-1 victory over an Atlante reserve side.
While the season is still a month away and nothing is set in stone, Backe is keen on the possibility of having Ream and Marquez in the back line. The tandem could start against Chivas de Guadalajara on Tuesday. Fans can watch the match tape delayed on Telemundo at 11:30 PM ET and see a special pre-game webshow on www.newyorkredbulls.com on Tuesday.
“Both defending and also in the attacking game, they are very composed,” Backe said. “It seems that we will get even stronger to come out from the back four in a good way. They never get stressed and that helps the whole team in the build-up.”
A potential Marquez-Ream combination could be a potent one both defensively and offensively. Ream, a player who prides himself on his technical ability and ball distribution, will work with his Mexican teammate who has similar attributes and has played at the highest levels of international soccer. Ironically enough, Marquez – a long time figure of consternation for U.S. National Team fans – will be tutoring an up-and-coming American player who recently received his first national team caps.
“Rafa and I have formed a good partnership so far and hopefully we keep going in posting shutouts and keep working on little things and staying sharp,” Ream said.
In his first year leading the Red Bulls, Backe has shown a preference for his players to keep the ball on the ground, holding possession and patiently developing attacks. Having players in the defensive line to do that is vital and that’s where Marquez and Ream come in.
“If you can have two guys doing it, then it’s hard for the other team to key in on one guy and shut down one guy,” Ream said. “If Rafa is doing it a ton in the game and they start focusing on him then I can step up and do the same thing and vice versa. It’s going to be real important for both of us to be able to pass it out of the back, especially considering the style of play that Hans wants us to play.”
RED BULLS BATTLE CHIVAS; LOOK TO STAY UNBEATEN
The Red Bulls will look to leave its Mexico preseason trip unbeaten when it takes on Chivas de Guadalajara tomorrow at Omnilife Stadium.
Chivas is currently in fourth place in Group 1 of the Mexican Clausura and features National Team defender Jonny Magallón and goalkeeper Luis Michel. With New York playing in Chivas’ new stadium that opened in July 2010, it could be the Red Bulls’ toughest test yet.
“It’s a top game for us,” Backe said. “They’re probably one of two or three best teams in Mexico and they’re also a very consistent team who are every year competing for the championship. I think it will absolutely be the biggest game for us so far.”
Backe said he will trot out a lineup that will likely see up to 70 minutes of action as opposed to the 45 minutes that was the norm in the first two matches. Additionally, fans could see the debut of new trialist Teemu Tainio, who trained fully with the team Monday after missing New York’s game on Saturday. Backe said Tainio may play for the first 45 minutes.
“I think it will be an interesting game, Backe said. “We’ll probably try to play, it’s early to say a first 11, but more of the veterans and see if they can play 60 or 70 minutes.”
After playing the match Tuesday, the Red Bulls return to the New York/New Jersey area on Wednesday. They embark on their second preseason trip to Ft. Lauderdale, FL on Monday, Feb. 21.
- After having at least one training session or match a day, the team had a short regeneration Sunday before earning a well-deserved day off on Sunday. The team had a short practice session Monday morning before heading to Guadalajara in the afternoon.
- Chris Albright did not dress for the Red Bulls’ win on Saturday but trained partially Monday. Albright was still recovering from a groin injury.
- Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez participated in a press conference Monday afternoon in Guadalajara ahead of Tuesday’s tilt. We’ll have highlights from that later on newyorkredbulls.com.
Statistic of the Day:
2 – The number of Mexican teams that have never been relegated to the second-tier division. Those sides are the Red Bulls’ opponent, Chivas de Guadalajara, and Club America.